How Do You Clear Roots From Drain Pipes

Imagine the distance that it would take for your tree roots to access your underground drain pipes. Is this even a possibility? Absolutely, it is possible for tree roots to attack your drainage pipes. Once you have identified that tree roots are the clogging problem with your pipe drainage, you can ask yourself, How do I clear the roots from my drain pipes? The answer is copper sulfate, rock salt, auger, hydro-jetting, or reroute or repair.

Underground drain pipes.
Underground Drain Pipes

What Are Drain Pipes

Drain pipes are exactly what they sound like. They are responsible for carrying all of your waste from your home to the city sewer system. This includes all of your plumbing and any gutter system runoff that you may have had installed. Let’s take a deeper dive into how and why root systems can intrude upon your drain pipes.

Roots growing inside a drain pipe cause problems in a yard.
Cracked Drain Pipe Showing Roots Inside

How Tree Roots Enter Drain Pipes

Tree roots gravitate towards moisture and food for the tree and the drain lines happen to be a perfect food and moisture source. If your drain lines become damaged from soil erosion, movement, or older pipes, the roots are going to naturally grow into your sewer lines. In addition, this can dramatically increase the damage to your drainage pipes.

Signs Of Tree Roots In Your Pipes

Believe it or not, there are a couple of ways to determine if your drain pipes have roots in them. Below are a couple of areas to keep an eye out for, prior to calling in the professionals.

Very Green Patches in Your Yard

Roots that have made it into your drain pipes will be healthy and have more access to food. This food source allows the foliage to remain healthy and strong.

Odor Smells

Serious blockage can cause a build-up of waste in the pipes. This will produce a foul odor that needs attending to from a home inspector.


A sinkhole occurs due to the pipes being cracked by the root system. This allows water to continue draining through the soil, leaving the area soft and vulnerable to movement and erosion.

Slow or Gurgling Drains

Slow draining pipes or clogs can also be a result of roots getting into your drain pipes. The only way to tell is to scope the drainpipe with a sewer scope camera designed to snake through the pipes.

Checking for an underground water leak is important. This can be done in five easy steps, starting with checking the water meter.

Cost to Clear Roots from Drain Pipes

The initial costs for you to clear or replace the drain pipes are determined by the professional team that you hire to service the pipes to check the lines for tree roots. This can range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands. The drain pipes or sewer lines, the size of your home, and the location will determine the costs.

Clearing Roots from Drain Pipes

Believe it or not, there are a few good home remedies for helping keep roots out of your drain pipes. Let’s take a look at some of those options:

  • Copper Sulfate-this will kill any root system in your pipes with just half a cup of these blue crystals. Copper sulfate is a natural herbicide and can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  • Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride)-adding the salt into your toilet that is farthest from the road. You will add a handful to your toilet and flush it down with buckets of water. You will need to avoid flushing the toilets until the following afternoon. This will give the salt time to dry out the roots. This is a temporary solution, as roots will tend to grow back.
  • Hydro Jetting-this involves thrusting a high power amount of water at 4,000 psi through the pipes. The water pressure is so powerful that It destroys the roots.
  • Rooter or Auger-this item will be shoved through the piping system all the way to the obstruction. Once the obstruction is located, the auger will slice up the roots and allow the pipes to be flushed out. Any debris that is left is washed away into the sewer.
  • Reroute or Repair-a professional might locate the issue and cut the pipes in hopes of rerouting the pipe trail away from the root system. This could typically cost the most. Also, materials are not cheap and neither is the time it takes to dig and locate the repair or problem site.

Keep in mind, any of the above solutions might damage your sewer drain lines if they are weak. Therefore, you may have to replace the sewer lines instead.

Sewer Scope Inspection

Homebuyers will want to have a sewer scope inspection completed prior to doing anything. This will allow you to determine the condition of the sewer system throughout your home. In order to do this, you will need to hire an inspector who will snake a camera through your sewer lines and determine if any damage is present. Knowing that everything looks good will give you peace of mind to purchase the home. Waypoint Property Inspection East can help you with your sewer scope inspections in South Florida.

Other Preventative Maintenance Ideas

You should consider maintaining your vegetation in the yard and keeping it away from the house. Also, keeping trees and other plants away from your drainage pipes is key to success. The root systems are always looking for nutrients and water, and both can be found inside your drainage pipes. So, the further away you can keep the plants and trees from your pipes, the better off you will be.

In addition, making sure that the yard gradient slopes away from the home will allow for the water to flow faster through your pipes. You do not want the pipes to end as level or sloping backward. This will cause slower flushing of the items in your drainage pipes and could also cause a backup into your home.

Other Recommended Maintenance

While you are busy inspecting or repairing your drain pipes, you might want to consider inspecting your sprinkler system. There are a few ways to maintain your sprinkler system while you have your yard dug up for drain pipe repairs.

Problems with yard drainage can be due to roots in drain pipes or other issues.

If you have water developing in the yard, check to make sure it is indeed a broken or clogged drainpipe underground causing this. When in actuality, it could be a drainage issue and a drainage system may be a cheaper fix. A professional can help you figure out the culprit.

Be careful of allowing water to sit in your yard for too long as it will be a breeding ground for mosquitos. The good news is there are natural ways to get the mosquitos under control while fixing the issue in your yard.

When Should I Call A Professional

It is highly recommended that you reach out to a professional right away to clear roots from drain pipes. Attempting to determine a clog in your drain pipes can take a long time, and set you back a lot of money. In addition, if you don’t know what you are doing, it can cause a lot of headaches and additional costs. Lastly, the time that it will take you to rent the equipment and dig up the area is not worth the amount that you would pay a professional.


It is always difficult to determine if tree roots have intruded into your underground plumbing. Using rock salts or copper sulfate to help combat the problem is a great idea, however, it is a very temporary solution. Waypoint Property Inspection East can take a look at your underground pipes during a home inspection in the Boca Raton, FL, and surrounding areas.

Why You Need a Sewer Scope Inspection

When we walk into the yard of a home, we have no idea what is happening underground. A sewer scope inspection is a great way to see if there are any issues. These inspections run about $150-275. Using a specialized camera, a professional can tell you if there are any issues, and hopefully tell you early before it is too expensive.  Let’s take a look at why this is important, what it is, signs it is necessary, risks of not doing one, and cast iron drain lawsuits.

Why this is important

Sewer lines are underground and not anything we can see without a specialized camera.  It is one of the most costly repairs on a home, ranging from $250-300 per foot of repaired line.  That is a lot! Unfortunately, the sewer line is something that is in use every day in the home and it is important to keep it functioning properly.

What is a Sewer Scope Inspection

A sewer scope inspection involves a home inspector taking a specialized camera and running it through the sewer to look at the sewer line.  The sewer line connects the house and foundation to the city sewer line or HOA tap.  The images that the camera pulls up, show on a monitor.  This will show the inspector what the line looks like, as well as if there are any cracks, broken line, or obstructions. How long does this take?  About an hour, so not too long.

Here Are a Few Signs You Need a Sewer Scope Inspection:

1. You see lush patches or extra green grass

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean someone painted your grass for you, but could perhaps be a sewer leak contributing to it.  Sewer water that leaks out fertilizes the grass and causes this to happen.  It makes it an easy sign to look for when you are walking around the yard of the home you are thinking about purchasing. 

2. Large trees in the yard

Depending on where you are looking for a home, you could be blessed with large trees in the yard.  However, these can be a curse instead of a blessing and more of a reason to have a sewer scope inspection done.  Unfortunately, these tall trees have roots that can grow into the sewer line or wrap around it and break it.  A sewer scope can pick this up to see if it is indeed going on.

3. Home is more than 25 years old

It is nice when you can find a home that is this old, as they have character and look great.  However, be careful about pipes that were made of clay in homes built before and in 1984.  The clay pipes are easily crushed and need to be examined to make sure they are not cracked or broken.  If your home does not have the clay pipes, maybe it has copper?  Look at the home inspection report to see what type of material your pipes are made of.  Even if they are copper pipes, they don’t last forever and inspection and/ or replacing are needed.

4. Water backing up in the home

When this happens, it could be a clog in the drain or it could be an issue with the sewer. You might think that the city should be responsible for the sewer line, but they aren’t – except for the main sewer line.  This starts past your property boundariesUnfortunately, the homeowner is responsible for the lower and upper lateral lines, which are the other parts of the sewer line on the owner’s property.  Call a professional to do a proper diagnosis.

5. Shifting or movement of the ground

This is also another sign that there is a problem with the sewer. Unfortunately, moving soil or ground can also open up a sinkhole.  If you see this, you will want to have a professional come out right away.

The inspector will look for the following in a sewer scope inspection:

  1. The type of material that makes up the pipes.
  2. Any cracks or damage to the lines
  3. Tree roots growing through the lines
  4. Damage or issues to the septic (if there is one on the property)

Once the sewer scope inspection is done, the professional makes a report for you about the findings.  If you are buying a home, this report will be made to the seller’s realtor.  If issues are found, you will need to discuss them with the realtor.

Here is an example of one our Sewer Scope Inspections

Risks of Not Doing a Sewer Scope Inspection

You risk having issues in the home that could be costly later.  Also, you risk buying a home that may have high repair costs just waiting for you.  It is better to have the inspection done than to regret not doing it later.

Cast iron drain lawsuits
Cast iron drains

Cast Iron Drain Lawsuits

These drains were used in homes built before 1975 and in optimal weather climates, last about 50-75 years. However, many of these drains are failing and causing damage, especially in the southern states.  The insurance companies say it is “wear and tear” so they don’t give the homeowner much for the repair and won’t insure or replace them.  Morgan and Morgan have been helping homeowners with getting what they deserve in lawsuits as the insurance companies are not insuring what is under the slab and what is not visible.

What if Cast Iron Drains Are Not Replaced?

  1. Damage to the home and yard with puddles and leaking sewage
  2. Clogging of sinks and toilets
  3. Health and safety risks with animals in the lines and contaminated water in the home
Order a sewer scope inspection even when buying a new home
Sewer scope camera and inspection

Order a Sewer Scope Inspection Even When Buying a New home

It is a good idea to think about a sewer scope inspection when you are purchasing a new home.  You may be thinking that sounds unnecessary- new home, clean line.  However, new homes are built very quickly and often have drain line issues.  You have no idea sometimes what ends up in the drain lines, or what someone puts in the drain lines until you have a clog in the pipes in your home.

It is not part of a home inspection but you can often add it on and bundle for a better price.  It never hurts to ask the home inspection company as they will be the ones doing the home inspection and sewer scope inspection.


A sewer scope gives you peace of mind and also allows you to know what is going on in the home.  The camera is amazing and as mentioned above, will show you everything going on in the sewer system. Most people would say that they would rather have the knowledge early on about potential issues and fix them than let it go on too long and be higher repairs later.  If you have questions about sewer scope inspections or the sewer lines, leave us a reply below so we can help, or learn more about our sewer scope inspections.